leeshaker.com | Lee Shaker Dot Com – Since 2009

unfinished business…almost finished

A mere five months ago, I posted a little write-up of a project that I’d been working on that examined citizen’s political competence. Rather than basing my assessment of competence on just the public’s national political knowledge, my perspective is that competence is a broad & complicated matter that should be assessed at least in terms of both local and national political knowledge. This seems fairly intuitive but, even though the scholarly debate about citizen competence has ebbed along for more than 50 years, there are very few examples of scholars taking this encompassing approach.

The general gist of the article is that, to some extent, different people are knowledgeable about local and national affairs. This means that some people (women, minorities) that are often seen as less competent when only national political matters are considered, should be seen as relatively more competent when both national and local matters are evaluated. Further, this provides evidence that the public is somewhat specialized in its political interests. This implies that not everyone will know everything about national (or local) affairs, but that there are people out there who are informed about either (and sometimes both). In other words, maybe the public is a little more competent than generally believed. That, in a nutshell, is my optimistic spin… At any rate, after finishing a draft & then batting it back and forth with several people who were nice enough to give me feedback, I finally submitted a version for publication last week. Check back for updates in the future…

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